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San Diego County Reports 263 New COVID-19 Cases, Five Deaths And Six New Outbreaks

A a county employee waits for a person to swab themselves for a COVID-19 test...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: A a county employee waits for a person to swab themselves for a COVID-19 test in a University of San Diego parking lot, July 15, 2020.

San Diego County health officials have reported 263 new COVID-19 infections and five additional fatalities, raising the county's totals to 31,127 cases and 583 deaths.

The three men and two women died between July 23 and Aug. 4 and ranged in age from 57 to 87. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the health department.

The county reported 11,106 tests Thursday, 2% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average is 4.9%. The state's target is fewer than 8% testing positive.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,681 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 674 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. Officials estimate more than 24,000 people have recovered from the virus.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday that the state had reported issues with private labs and reporting, meaning some additional cases might be retroactively added to both local and statewide case totals in coming weeks.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 also continues to trend downward, with 392 in regional hospitals as of Thursday, including 125 in intensive care units.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who have been contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from 7% on July 18 to 73%. The county's target for this metric is more than 90%, but 70% is good enough to get it out of the "failed" trigger category.

A half-dozen additional community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 31. The latest outbreaks were reported in a preschool, a restaurant, two healthcare settings and two businesses.

There have been 170 community outbreaks reported since stay-at-home orders in March. In skilled nursing facilities, 145 deaths have been linked to 59 outbreaks.

A community outbreak is considered to have occurred if three or more people from different households contract COVID-19 from one location.

Officials say declining case numbers and other important metrics show positive trends, leading some lawmakers to begin looking at ways to move forward with further reopening of the economy.

The Board of Supervisors over the past four days opened county-owned parks for worship and fitness activities; approved spending $48 million in federal pandemic-related funding to help child care providers, testing in schools and meals for senior citizens; added a pilot walk-up testing program at the San Ysidro Port of Entry for essential workers and U.S. citizens; and approved a plan that adds 22 members to a "safe reopening compliance team" to crack down on businesses refusing to follow public health orders.

The compliance team will focus on three types of violators, starting with the most blatant cases — such as those who host mass gatherings. The next level of enforcement would focus on businesses or groups that have experienced community outbreaks. Lastly, the team will check on less serious violations reported to them by concerned individuals, including businesses not requiring social distancing protocols or mask wearing.

A compliance call center has been established so county residents can submit complaints of violations. The number is 858-694-2900.

Of the total hospitalized during the pandemic due to the illness, 71% have been 50 or older. But county residents ages 20-29 have accounted for 25.5% percent of COVID- 19 cases, the highest of any age group, according to county data. That age group is also least likely to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the illness, officials said.

"Some San Diegans think they're not going to get sick and therefore are not following the public health guidance," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "What they don't realize is that they could get infected and pass the virus to others who are vulnerable."

The age group with the second-highest number of infections — residents ages 30-39 — represent 18.9% of the county's COVID-19 cases.

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